Today for lunch I drove in a huge loop around the perimeter of Springfield. Every next intersection I found nothing that interested me.
All the while I tried to imagine doing something different, wondering if there was some gathering place of interesting people who liked to discuss real issues instead of consumer distractions.
The next intersection, I thought, should have something new and interesting, this was not to be. Restaurants were still restaurants,different names. One bar became a used-car dealership.
I drove South on Rote 4, then East beyond the campuses of UIS and LLCC, north on Dirksen until I reached Walmart. I then headed west on Sangamon Ave, passed the state fairgrounds.
Culver's, Steak-n-Shake, McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Denny's, Subway, bob Evans. Fat, Salt, Sugar, Wheat, Caffeine, Carbohydrates, Cholesterol.
Is such the fate of Springfield? How many times are they going to try a new restaurant at the same location before they figure it out? How many more steak houses and condominiums does this town need? I suppose as many as there are people who will grow tired of caring for their lawns and who tranquilize themselves on beef and potatoes, falling asleep in front of the television at night.
Still driving I wound up going south on Route 4 again from the state fairgrounds all the way to Wabash again, and finally stopped and ate at Panda Express, the first place I told myself I was not going to eat.
As I drove, I remembered my father subscribed to Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines, cooking, drinking and listening to baseball on the radio in his condo. When I visited him as a child I would often look out the upper windows across the repetitive architectural landscape which appeared vast and lifeless during the day, but which came to life at night in the form of dull bluish flickering glow in the windows, of television light shining on the drawn translucent shades. The streets empty, lit only by the amber glow of streetlights.
His fate was that he be overtaken by his lifestyle. I can't help but think I am trapped here, that our futures have been laid before us on rails set by capitalism that appeals to instant gratification, set by the inevitably shrinking variety of choices we are allowed by our corporate masters, simply because we chose gratification over sustainability.
Everywhere I go, every intersection, every turn, every large building serves as a reminder of my history here in Springfield, and a future shared, but ignorantly so, by all.